Wednesday, April 9, 2008

46. Life lessons from "The Godfather of Fame" Phillip Johnson

Sometimes referred to as the Paris Hilton of architecture, Phillip Johnson was one of the most divisive architects of the 20th Century. He took on contrarian views and said taboo things that would outrage other architects thus making him even more famous.

I believe he was the one that said we architects are whores. If you are a non-architect reading this blog I will let you know that most architects believe in Architecture like most people believe in God. We take it very seriously, to the point of fanaticism most of the time.

So when PJ said this, we blew our tops, including yours truly. I have always despised him and in a lot of ways, I still do. He represented everything empty and shallow and demeaning to my holy profession. In retrospect though, I think PJ is just as good as he is evil. He was right, and he was wrong (as he would say), he was human.

He mastered the art of fame not just for himself but he was the godfather to others.

Love him or hate him he deserves at least 15 minutes on this notorious blog of fame.

On architecture:

Architecture is the mother of the arts, it is the thing that makes all other arts possible like wall paintings and things like that; they have to be in an architectural setting all day.

On great architects:

I measure the greatness [of an Architect] by whether they did beautiful buildings or not. Whether they got public acceptance? No [but whether they got] elitist acceptance in the world of people who understands art and architecture. You see, I might do a very popular building but that would not be equal to Mies van der Rohe doing the Segram’s building.

More on great architects:
You know what architects are, they are worst than Divas, they are the last of a bread, each one of them. Frank Lloyd Wright knew perfectly well that there was no architecture and after he died there will be no more architecture.

What was your biggest regret?
Being such a damn fool when I was young…
I got better judgment on what to do with my time, I spend it doing architecture which may or may not be good but it sure is great fun.

As an architect evaluate “Johnson” the architect.
He is not a very good architect, he is a chameleon, he runs around a lot, he never settles down, always looking for something new, and I see nothing wrong in that.

[But seriously] no...I am a good architect, not Frank Lloyd Wright, not Frank Gehry, not Le Corbusier, not Mies van der Rohe…

If you were asked “show me your best work” what would you show?
I would show them the monster...
Your most recent work?...You got this idea from?
(Got the idea) from Frank Stella,
So you stole it from Stella?
Of course,
This is not an original Johnson?
It got to be original...(laughter)…
Look we all learn from somebody and when you are 90 you learn more from other people because you are smarter...
You like it because…?
There is this moving space that surrounds you and makes you feel very good in the tummy and what more can you ask of architecture…
What’s the purpose of the glass house?
To make you feel good. Feel elevated...
how do you feel when you listen to a great symphony, you feel marvelous, you feel like you can float, but you can not analyze why…and no one can tell you.
It’s an emotional connection
…and that’s what architecture should be…
What about function?
Well it’s not very important. What’s the function of a Beethoven Symphony?

If you are going to give one last lecture what would it be?
Life is not dependent on money, on learning how to do things, its dependent on love, and dependent on enthusiasm, and dependent on battling

Do you believe in God?
it is what I feel when I am moved by something. If there is a God, that’s God..... whatever it/he/she is

Is not life a hundred times too short to bore ourselves”

from Nietzsche Beyond Good and Evil 1886

Why is that a good quote?
It shows the you have to loose yourself in doing something that excites you

“There is only one thing in the world that is worst than being talked about, and that's not being talked about”
from Oscar Wilde...

I approve of that,…I love television I could be on it all day long

Liberaing Minds Since August 2007


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Anonymous said...

whether not weather

Don said...

Corrected. Thanks!
Most embarrassing blunder

Anonymous said...
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